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Wednesday, 06 July 2016 00:00

One force to police them all?

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By Pat Warren

            A Core Service Review staff report on policing to Kawartha Lakes council shows that even though 17 percent of the total city budget is spent on policing, CKL policing costs are actually lower than most other municipalities in Ontario.

             This despite the fact that OPP policing costs for the area outside Lindsay and the former Ops township doubled this year due to

a funding redistribution equation mandated by the province. All municipalities now pay a flat cost for most services.

            And even with the increase in OPP costs, the cost for the Kawartha Lakes Police Service, the municipal force that covers both Lindsay and Ops is still twice as much as the rural OPP service. 

            The report prompted Ward 9 Councillor Isaac Breadner to move that council ask both the Kawartha Lakes Police Service and the Ontario Provincial Police to submit proposals to take over policing the entire city.

            Breadner argued the only way to get a true cost for policing by one force (either the municipal force or the OPP), would be to get separate proposals from each of them.

            Councillors voted his motion down, as most of them felt efficiencies need to be found first before moving to a request for proposal.

            Which, after a heated debate, is what they did. Council decided to ask both forces to find efficiencies to help lower these continually increasing policing costs. This could include sharing services.

            The debate on moving to one force has been an ongoing issue, raised many times since amalgamation. But it is on hold again, until a report comes back on efficiencies.

            Historically Lindsay and Ops Township have a higher level of service than their rural neighbours. Municipal Police Board Chair and Ward 12 Councillor Gord James said that the people of Lindsay don't mind paying more for the enhanced service.

            Many councillors feel that one force may be less expensive to administer but this debate will have to wait until a further report on efficiencies is brought forward in the coming months.

            Mayor Letham offered a middle-ground suggestion: that if, after efficiencies have been sought, council is still not satisfied, then it could put an Expression of Interest  to all forces to see if they would like to submit a proposal to police the whole city. This could even go to police services in other municipal jurisdictions such as Peterborough and Durham Region.

            Maybe there are other ways to find savings. Maybe the two forces can share more of their services—such as communications and response to calls—so the bottom line for policing can be lowered, especially as crime and calls for service have also been decreasing.

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